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Voluntary bonding scheme for rural GPs not working

Health Spokesperson

30 November 2012 MEDIA STATEMENT
Voluntary bonding scheme for rural GPs not working

News that South Canterbury District Health Board is having problems recruiting and retaining GPs is symptomatic of a much wider issue facing many rural communities, Labour's Health spokesperson Maryan Street says.

"That SCDHB has come up with an innovative scheme to try and attract doctors is to be congratulated. On the other hand, the fact that it needs to put in this sort of extra effort, ultimately proves the Voluntary Bonding Scheme to get doctors into hard to staff areas is not working.

“The scheme was meant to attract health professionals to rural areas which are traditionally difficult to staff.

“However it’s obviously not working, particularly for the recruitment of GPs. South Canterbury is not the only rural/provincial area which is short of doctors. The West Coast DHB has frequently had difficulties getting long term GPs, as has the Southern DHB.

This in turn often results in DHBs having to hire locums - the most expensive way to get GP care.

“Information the Ministry has about the scheme is extremely limited. All we know is that of the 27 graduates who have met the minimum requirements of the VBS since 2009 and been paid, two were employed by Lakes DHB, another two at Northland and one each at Tairawhiti, West Coast and Whakatane DHBs.

"They are often only employed for a short period and may work part-time. That does not provide continuity of care for people in those areas, who may end up seeing a different doctor at each new appointment.

"The Voluntary Bonding Scheme is not working. Tony Ryall either needs to rethink it or try much harder to ensure it meets the primary health care needs of families in rural and provincial areas,” Maryan Street said.

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